You’ve heard about big businesses being hacked and data being compromised, but did you know Hackers don’t just target big businesses? They are very well known for targeting small and midsize businesses. As a matter of fact, according to Commissioner Luis A. Aguilar of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, smaller businesses are the principal target of cybercrime.  Even worse, many small businesses cannot afford to recover.

One of the most recent and most venomous bites is the WannaCry ransomware attack. The attack began on Friday, May 12, 2017 and within one day it was reported to have infected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries. And it wasn’t just big businesses.

WannaCry targeted all computers running outdated versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system by encrypting data and demanding ransom payments in the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

Why Are Small Businesses More Vulnerable?

Many small business owners do not have an IT department at their disposal. And most do not have a good understanding of Windows patches and security updates. Thus, the task of keeping software current is often left undone.

WannaCry and many other malicious programs locate the vulnerable computer with outdated software. Once they find it, they are going in.

What If My Small Business Gets Hit?

Once a computer gets infected by WannaCry or other ransomware, there are usually only two choices. You can pay the ransom if you have the funds, but that encourages future attacks. The other choice is to refuse to pay the ransom and lose all records and transactions, crucial information the business needs to function.

There are limited fixes. Some of the limitations are that the computer has to be running a particular version of Windows, and/or the computer cannot have been rebooted since infection. If you don’t meet the criteria, there is no fix. Thus, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Three FREE & SUPER CHEAP Ways to Prevent Cyber Attacks

Even the small business owner on a very limited budget can protect themselves from ransomware and other malicious programs. And, you can do it quickly and easily.

FREE: Pay Attention!

Never download software from an unknown source. Also, the Department of Homeland Security recommends that you never click links sent via email or open attachments from unknown senders. You should also never provide personal contact information online or over the phone unless you know exactly who you are dealing with. Read more.

FREE: Keep it Current!

Always set your computer to update Windows automatically for the latest security patches. Here’s how.

AS LOW AS $5 A MONTH: Back it Up!

You can purchase a backup service such as Mozy, Crashplan, and Carbonite. Choose your product carefully and set it to backup automatically on a regular basis.

AS LOW AS $6 A MONTH: Lock the Door!

Virus protection software and firewalls are not foolproof, but they are necessary.  They are affordable and sometimes free.  For example, computers running the Windows operating system already have a firewall installed.  It’s up to you to make sure it stays on, even if you are running another firewall, and stays current.   Another good example is AVG, which offers a free version of its powerful virus protection software. For about $70 bucks a year, you can add internet protection which scans for malware.*

* Not all virus protection programs scan for Malware, so read the fine print!

If you practice these simple steps, the next time a Hacker aims their cyber gun at you, you can just say “Go ahead…make my day.”